February 2013 Newsletter

I just got back from a new Board Member institute, sponsored by the California School Boards Association, where I learned about building a strong governance team, evaluating and supporting the Superintendent, partnering with collective bargaining groups, and managing fiduciary responsibilities.  I'm enjoying learning more about my new role. 

LOCAL CONTROL FUNDING FORMULA (LCFF): (formerly Weighted Student Funding Formula) During his State of the State Address, Jerry Brown introduced the broad outline of a new way to fund education, stating that "Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice."  As we hear more details of his proposal, one likely scenario is that state funding for suburban, basic aid school districts (like PAUSD) will remain flat. Even Prop 30 money, touted to bring education dollars to the state coffers, will, at best, bring us back to our 2007 funding levels (by paying back deferred payments over the past five years).  Districts with large populations of students living in poverty or English-language learners would receive the most money under this new proposal.    

STRONG SCHOOLS BOND UPDATE:  It's hard to miss the tremendous amount of construction going on in our district.  Several projects are now completed or nearing completion, and others are in various stages of development.  You can find construction updates on the PAUSD website.  Also, check out this article in School Construction News about our sustainability efforts, green design and innovative construction, and this San Francisco Chronicle article about how bond financing can get school districts into hot water (we are not using the type of bonds discussed in the article and our projected debt ratio is 2:14:1, nowhere near the alarming 4:1 ratio mentioned).

NEW CURRICULUM IMPROVEMENTS:  Exciting new courses were introduced at the last School Board meeting for both high schools and Jordan Middle School (Jordan's enrollment grew substantially, creating a need for two more "wheel" electives: Communications and Ceramics and Sculpture).  New high school options include: Positive Psychology, The Literature of Comedy, and Programming for Mobile Devices.  Also, the Gunn English Dept. broadened its curriculum, adding World Literature offerings alongside traditional Western texts.  If you'd like to read more about these changes and additions, see the Board information packet from 1/29/13, Items 11 and 12.

STRATEGIC PLAN REFRESH: At the mid-year Board retreat in early January, we discussed our Strategic Plan refresh.  There will be several opportunities over the next few months for community input.  We rely on your contributions as we set goals for our district.  For a detailed timeline and process overview, see the Board information packet from 1/29/13, Item 16.  Stay tuned for more information.  

COMING UP: On Feb. 12th, we are slated to discuss new "hybrid" course development, our progress on student connectedness, developmental assets, and bullying, and more details on the Governor's Budget proposal.  As your Board representative, I am always interested in your thoughts on these and other issues in our community.  

MY NEW E-MAIL:  Feel free to contact me at hemberling@pausd.org.


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